He Didn’t Win


Natasha declared Wednesday night that if no one returns to the bridge, he has won.

Empoyee rec and Trestle Trail 061

If you read my very last post, you know that our community suffered a tragedy this past Sunday evening when a lone gunman shot and killed two adult men and an 11 year old girl on the Trestle Trail bridge, not far from where I work. The community has since come together with love and support of the victims and their families in many heartfelt ways.

At lunch today, I drove over to Fritse Park to walk the length of the bridge and found an usual number of vehicles (for a Thursday noon) at the park.

Empoyee rec and Trestle Trail 054

I had to park in the overflow lot.

Several people were on their way into the park and in the distance, I saw a fairly large group of people walking onto the bridge. It turned out this was a group from the YMCA, where Erin Stoffel worked part-time. They walked out to the middle of the bridge and under the red pavilion, where others had laid flowers and memorials.

Empoyee rec and Trestle Trail 056

Empoyee rec and Trestle Trail 055

Empoyee rec and Trestle Trail 062

Empoyee rec and Trestle Trail 059

It was a windy walk across the bridge. As I passed the red pavilion and the gathered group from the Y, I struck up a conversation with a young woman, who had also come for a walk during her lunch time. She felt a sort of kinship with Erin Stoffel as she had lost her husband five years ago in a traffic accident. This young woman was left with a two-year-old boy to raise on her own. “You never know,” she said to me, “when these things will happen.” Jane and her son visit the park and walk the bridge frequently. It is her intent that fear not keep them from this place.

Fear cannot win, for if it does, then the shooter wins.

That is the main reason I went there today. That is one of the reasons that people were there today. There will be another group on the bridge tonight, holding a prayer service and keeping community with a potluck afterwards. There will be others that will walk or bike the bridge on Friday. And Saturday. And for many summer days to come.

He didn’t win. Fear didn’t win. Not today. Not ever.

Epilogue: Erin Stoffel was listed in serious condition as of Wednesday night, but is expected to survive. When she was able to speak she clarified her husband’s last words were, “I forgive him.” Although Jon Stoffel didn’t ask his wife to forgive, she has said that she also forgives the shooter. Erin understands that if forgiveness isn’t granted, we may as well never walk the bridge again.

Empoyee rec and Trestle Trail 060

15 responses to He Didn’t Win

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Thanks Dan. They just said on the news that several hundred people are at the park this evening for the prayer service. It’s awesome how out of tragedy comes strength of community.

  1. moylomenterprises says:

    Even in sadness one can find a glimmer of goodness – – of hope – – of greater purpose!

    I read this post with a heavy heart as I had just finished reading another post on the Sinking of the Lusitania 100 yrs ago, and having our own community tragedy this week ( police officer murdered by a lone gunman – – massive funeral today) .

    Such sadness, such loss – – all this as we welcome Spring and all the new birth the long-awaited season has to offer. How does one begin to comprehend why all this loss and sadness is necessary? The world certainly seems broken more and more everyday, but if we succumb to this feeling of loss and hopelessness then evil wins. So, yes we grieve today, then we rise up and overcome tomorrow for in so doing Good prevails EVERYTIME!

    Blessings to you and your community and to the families of the lost souls. Press on in Jesus’ name…

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Thank you for your blessings and same to you and your community as you say goodbye to the police officer. Beautiful, better days are ahead for all of us.

  2. LB says:

    I came here, then went back and read the previous post.
    Tragedy brings people closer and if there is any good that comes from horror, it is that.
    Unfortunately, more and more communities are being drawn together.
    Erin’s words, and her husband’s are profoundly true.
    Thoughts are with your community as you all walk that bridge again.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Thanks Laurie. I certainly wish that the human race would find a way to solve their problems and get through their own hard times without taking down innocent people. I don’t know what the answer is, but I hope we can find a turning point in all of this.

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